About Us

    The Intensa Spanish Language Schools are a family-run business in operation since 1980. When we started out we had plenty of experience with language learning, however starting up the first school was a risk (and an adventure!).

    Now more than 30 years later, Intensa has five Spanish language schools offering a wide variety of lesson choices, and a combined staff of 145 teachers and administrators.

Letter from the President, Robert Patterson Sr.

    I started Intensa Spanish language schools in 1980 in response to a perceived need. I had been closely involved with an institute educating bilingual secretaries in Costa Rica. Its three-year program, one of the best in the country, was not very effective in meeting the women’s urgent need to speak and understand spoken English. What I saw being played out at that institute was a re-run of my own past experiences with language learning. I had studied Italian three years in high school; I had an MA in Classical Languages from Loyola University in Chicago, specifically in Latin and Greek but with some French thrown in for good measure. At the end I could read those languages pretty well but conversing was out of the question.

    Shortly after graduation, I was offered a three-year job in Peru teaching math and history and running sports programs. Problem: I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish, so I took a four-month crash program at a language institute in Ponce, Puerto Rico. It was strictly oral, let’s say ‘conversational’. Every morning for four hours, my three classmates and I produced spoken Spanish based on a dozen or so blue, pictureless, type-written mimeographed sheets.

    After class, I spent as much time as I could practicing with any Puerto Rican who had the patience. I lived in the freshman dorm, ate in the university cafeteria, visited with the local firemen, and in the evening had a rum and coke with Puerto Rican friends.

    In Peru finally, and after a fifth month to prepare my courses, I started teaching primary and secondary students from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and occasionally adults at night. Apart from a bout of high blood pressure, I survived. By that time, however, I was also convinced that intensive oral practice carried out over a number of months was a highly effective way to learn to speak a language as well as to read and write it.

    After Peru, and in great part due to my Peruvian experience and my ability to speak Spanish, I landed two jobs in international sales and marketing that took me repeatedly to Southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America. In 1976, I moved from Chicago to Costa Rica with my Costa Rican wife and our four children.

    As of this writing, I have been involved in language learning for over 40 years. In March of 2010, my staff and I celebrated 30 years of successfully helping people speak the Spanish and English languages.

Intensa is an English and Spanish language learning center with various locations throughout Costa Rica
Calle 33, Avenidas 3 y 5
Barrio Escalante, San Jose
Phone: 800-468-3672